The Tsukiji Market (築地市場 Tsukiji shijō), is the world-famous fish market that is on everyone’s list of “must-dos” in Tokyo, Japan. Tsukiji Market is the world’s biggest wholesale fish and seafood market, and also has a large wholesale area for fruits and vegetables too.
We have visited Tsukiji Market, and you can too in this week’s Monday Morning Trip to Tsukiji Market! Here is JapanSauce.Net’s two minute travel video to the Tsukiji Market Tuna Auction:
The first market in Tokyo was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Edo period to provide food for Edo castle (present-day Tokyo). Tokugawa Ieyasu invited fishermen from Tsukuda, Osaka to Edo to provide fish for the castle. Fish not bought by the castle was sold near the Nihonbashi bridge, at a market called uogashi (literally, “fish quay”).
The Great Kantō earthquake on September 1, 1923, devastated much of central Tokyo, including the Nihonbashi fish market. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the market was relocated to the Tsukiji district and, after the construction of a modern market facility was completed in 1935.
The market has two different areas: the inner market, and the outer market.
The “inner market”(jōnai-shijō) is the licensed wholesale market, where you can find hundreds of stalls processing and selling fish. You will see a flurry of activity, as sellers rush around on their carts and trucks, and slice and dice fish to sell to wholesale buyers.
Though this is such a cool sight to see, Tsukiji Market is first and foremost a business, and buyers/sellers don’t like tourists getting in the way. This means that tourists are not allowed in this area until after 9AM. At this time, you can roam around the area and take plenty of pictures. But don’t forget to buy some fish too!
The “outer market” (jōgai-shijō) has both wholesale and retail stalls, where you can buy many different types of items, including kitchen equipment, fruits, vegetables, and seafood. This area is also where you will find many great restaurants, selling all the fresh fish purchased that morning.
I recommend finding one of the many sushi restaurants and grabbing a bite to eat for an amazingly reasonable price.
I ate all of this sushi, and more, for about $15 US Dollars. Trust me; it is an amazing savings that you can only find at this market.
The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive tuna—some have even sold for as much as $1.8 Million Dollars! The Market sells over $6 Billion Dollars’ worth of seafood a year, which is no surprise since most of the most expensive restaurants in the world buy their seafood here each day.
If you want to visit the Market make sure to wake-up early, because it actually opens most days at 3:00AM! You might want to grab a cup of coffee before heading out the door. Here is a helpful calendar that will show you what days the Market is open. Red days mean closed!
The Tuna Auction
The main attraction at Tsukiji Market is the Tuna Auction! This is what people around the world travel to Tsukiji Market to see, and it is definitely worth the long wait.
There are two auctions tours each day, one starts around 5:25AM, and the other starts at about 5:50AM. However, only 120 people get to attend the auction each day (60 people for each time), and spots are first come, first served. And with so many people wanting to take part in this tour, this means that you have to arrive early! Very early.
Many people arrive to Tsukiji Market as early as 3:30AM to 4:00AM, and grab one of the coveted green or blue vests—which mean you get to go inside. I’ve been at Tsukiji Market this early, and trust me people really do arrive at that time. So head to Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) at the Kachidoki Gate when you arrive and get in line.
You will be guided into the auction by Tsukiji Market security, but make sure to lookout for all of the turret trucks zooming around!
Once inside, you can watch tuna bidders representing buyers from across the globe, as they use lightning-fast hand signs to bid. Blink your eyes and you might miss it.
The market is currently located near Tsukijishijo Station on the Toei Oedo Line, and Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line. The closest JR station is Shimbashi, which is a 15 minute walk away from the market. Please note that on November 2, 2016 Tsukiji Market will move to a new site in the Toyosu district in Tokyo’s Koto ward.
Hours and Admission
Outer Market: Stores open from 5:00AM to 14:00
Inner Market: Tourists gain access from 9:00AM
Tuna Auctions: First Auction at 5:25AM and Second Auction at 5:50AM
Make sure to check the calendar above to verify that the Market will be open on that day!
Entry to Tsukiji Market is FREE! You just pay for the food or items you wish to purchase.